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Construction project breaks ground in downtown North Bay

The project, worth $8.5 million, has been in the planning stages for 10 years.
A balloon release was held to celebrate breaking ground at the new $8.5-million Family Help and Treatment Centre in downtown North Bay. Photo by Ryen Veldhuis

After a decade of planning, an $8.5-million, 18,000-square-foot construction project broke ground in downtown North Bay on Dec. 9.

Hands: The Family Help Network is an accredited organization dedicated to improving the life experiences of families, children, youth, and developmentally challenged adults who need support and guidance.

The organization serves more than 9,000 families across Parry Sound, Nipissing, Muskoka, North Bay and Northern Ontario and employs 230 people.

Jeffrey Hawkins, executive director at Hands, said it was an incredible feeling to see the construction finally begin, despite the freezing temperatures at the announcement on Friday morning at the site.

“It’s a tremendously exciting day and this is something I’ve been part of and working on since I came to North Bay in 2000. So for me it’s a culmination of a tremendous journey and the community support has been amazing,” Hawkins said.

“The vision came from a number of factors,” he added. “When we were in a temporary location and as we started to increase the kinds of services, our demand increased. Another piece was we really wanted to be in the community, of the community, for the community. We wanted to be in the downtown, close to the waterfront, and the public transit.”

The province has contributed $6 million for the development, while the organization has raised $1 million and plans to raise another $1 million toward the project.

Site prep has been complete, and construction is estimated to be completed by Oct. 31, 2017.